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Are Drivers the Only Ones Liable for a Car Accident?

When you should think twice about letting others drive your car

There are plenty of myths in the world of car insurance. One of the most pervasive is the notion that you can’t be held liable for another driver’s actions behind the wheel of your car. While there are certainly protections in place to ensure that you aren’t unfairly penalized, it’s important to understand the liability issues that surround this common practice and know how to anticipate potential problems.

Young Drivers and Liability

You might not think twice about letting your teenager or twenty something drive your vehicle, but you could be held liable for their actions. There are several legal frameworks that govern liability in this situation:

• Family purpose: The owner of a “family vehicle” may be held liable whenever that vehicle is used by any driver. It’s an old Wisconsin doctrine, but the driver could be found to be an agent of the owner, thus subjecting the owner to liability.

• Negligence: If you lend your vehicle to a child who may be deemed incompetent due to inexperience or intoxication, you may be held liable.

• Minor drivers: By signing your minor child’s driver’s license application, you may have complicit liability in their actions behind the wheel as a sponsor.

If you’d like to learn more about the liability issues surrounding teenage drivers, watch our Youtube video.

Letting an Employee Drive a Vehicle You Own

If your employee needs to use a vehicle owned by you or your company for business activities, the owning individual or entity—that’s you or your business—could be liable for damage or injury that results from an accident. However, employees using company vehicles on their own time and without permission are liable for their own actions.

Intoxicated Drivers

If you lend your vehicle to someone who’s clearly intoxicated, you’ll be held liable for whatever happens. If they’re not yet intoxicated but are likely to indulge while the car is in their possession, you may be held liable as well.

Otherwise Unfit or Incompetent Drivers

Similar rules apply with other types of incompetency, including:

• Unlicensed drivers
• Drivers with little on-the-road experience, including those with just a learner’s permit
• Drivers who have previously been charged with vehicular crimes like DUI or reckless driving
• Elderly drivers
• Drivers with medical conditions that could affect their ability to drive, including epilepsy

Work With a Seasoned Car Accident Lawyer in Neenah and Appleton, WI

Whether you’re being kept up at night by your teenage kid’s driving habits or the fact that you lent your family vehicle to a close friend for a weekend up north, we’re happy to help you sort out the liability issues that come with letting other drivers use your car. To learn more about what we can do for you, call us or visit our website to fill out our online contact form.